Literacy

Does Reading a Single Passage of Literary Fiction Really Improve Theory of Mind? (NO)

Fiction simulates the social world and invites us into the minds of characters. This has led various researchers to suggest that reading fiction improves our understanding of others’ cognitive and emotional states. Kidd and Castano (2013) received a great deal of attention by providing support for this claim. Their article reported that reading segments of literary fiction (but not popular fiction or nonfiction) immediately and significantly improved performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), an advanced theory-of-mind test. Here we report a replication attempt by 3 independent research groups, with 792 participants randomly assigned to 1 of 4 conditions (literary fiction, popular fiction, nonfiction, and no reading). In contrast to Kidd and Castano (2013), we found no significant advantage in RMET scores for literary fiction compared to any of the other conditions. However, as in Kidd and Castano and previous research, the Author Recognition Test, a measure of lifetime exposure to fiction, consistently predicted RMET scores across conditions. We conclude that the most plausible link between reading fiction and theory of mind is either that individuals with strong theory of mind are drawn to fiction and/or that a lifetime of reading gradually strengthens theory of mind, but other variables, such as verbal ability, may also be at play. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
From PsycNET - Display Record
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Once your kids can read easy books, start reading them hard ones, says reading expert Doug Lemov

There are multiple benefits to reading kids hard books, he argues. Some are obvious, like exposing them to more complex vocabulary. Some are less so, such as exposing them to more complicated sentences and more elaborate plot lines, which better prepares them for when they encounter those on their own further down the road.
From Once your kids can read easy books, start reading them hard ones, says reading expert Doug Lemov — Quartz

Majority of Americans are still reading print books | Pew Research Center

A growing share of Americans are reading e-books on tablets and smartphones rather than dedicated e-readers, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats
From Majority of Americans are still reading print books | Pew Research Center
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Reading Project - Take My Books Please

Piles of books were left in high-traffic locations around NYC which were all taken and have now travelled to more than 30 countries as part of The Reading Project. Part-commentary on the way we live today and part-experiment, the project saw stacks of books accompanied only by a simple note that encouraged passers-by to take a book for free, read it and on completing the book, email me.
From Reading Project — MADE BY SHERRY
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Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?

Comprehension matters, but so does pleasure. In Proust and the Squid, Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, observes that the brain’s limbic system, the seat of our emotions, comes into play as we learn to read fluently; our feelings of pleasure, disgust, horror and excitement guide our attention to the stories we can’t put down. Novelists have known this for a long time, and digital writers know it, too. It’s no coincidence that many of the best early digital narratives took the form of games, in which the reader traverses an imaginary world while solving puzzles, sometimes fiendishly difficult ones. Considered in terms of cognitive load, these texts are head-bangingly difficult; considered in terms of pleasure, they’re hard to beat.

From Do You Read Differently Online and in Print?

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Our (Bare) Book Shelves, Our Selves

Although the study did not account for e-books, as they’re not yet available in enough countries, Dr. Evans said in theory they could be just as effective as print books in encouraging literacy.

“But what about the casual atmosphere of living in a bookish world, and being intrigued to pull something off the shelf to see what it’s like?” she asked. “I think that will depend partly on the seamless integration of our electronic devices in the future.”

From Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves - The New York Times

Language, Policed: The Monster of Bad Spelling

And what is good spelling worth lately? A few years ago, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Virginia Heffernan that fetishized typos in the digital age because when spell-check fails because “curious readers…get regular glimpses of raw and frank and interesting mistakes that give us access to unedited minds.” That may be true, but even in the age of emoji and spellcheck, the ability to privilege bad spelling—both as a reader and as a writer—leans in part on being a fluent speller in the first place, certified as worthy to receive, judge, and transmit culture and knowledge. Spelling well is still classy today because it’s still a display of class.

From Language, Policed: The Monster of Bad Spelling - The Awl

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Ebooks for All Building digital libraries in Ghana with Worldreader

Of course, Kindles and Christianity are different beasts. But the fundamental posturing can feel eerily close. Those of us who work in technology tend to take religious-like stances over its ability to change the world, always for the better.

From Ebooks for All — Craig Mod

Learning to Read. Again.

What does reverse outlining have to do with text mining? He might not realize it, but Aaron Hamburger, in a nice Opinionator essay that enumerates the virtues of outlining in reverse for creative writing, has made a fantastic justification for new research techniques of the digital humanities. Using his piece as a springboard, I argue here that historians would be well served to expand their notion of what it means to read—as oppose to analyze—a text or set of texts with digital methods.

From Learning to Read. Again.

Rinse, Spin, Read To Kids: It's A Mashup Of Laundromat and Library

Poor mothers often spend way too much time hunched over a washboard. What if they could use those hours to curl up with their kids and read a book instead? A group of friends at Oxford University plans to find out by developing a combination childhood education and laundry services center, a concept they've dubbed a "Libromat."

The five team members have extensive backgrounds in childhood education, and they pooled their talents to apply for the 2015 Hult Prize, a $1 million award for young social entrepreneurs tackling some of the world's biggest problems.

This year's challenge: provide self-sustainable education to impoverished urban areas.

Full story here: http://goo.gl/oVunIi

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